We have all been watching, listening and reading about the events in Orlando for two days now. The rhetoric has, as expected, been harsh and not always constructive. Our hope for today is to have a discussion that acknowledges our collective grief and outrage, but also points a way toward some common ground.
Joining NJTV News Correspondent David Cruz are Abdul Mubarak-Rowe, communications director for the New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations; Alexander Roubian, president of New Jersey Second Amendment Society; Christian Fuscarino, executive director of Garden State Equality; and Asyah Aquil, president of the Essex County chapter of Million Mom March, which is a chapter of the Brady Campaign.
June is not only the month of Ramadan, a month filled with blessings, but it is also Pride Month across most of the country and New Jersey. It’s a celebration of freedom and life. The events in Orlando were clearly an act of terror, but they were also evidently a very specific act of hate against a group of specific people.
“My stomach is still churning knowing this person went into an LGBT establishment on purpose to shoot up as many people as he could,” Fuscarino said. “It could have happened in New Jersey at a nightclub. This hits really close to home for me and so many people in the LGBT community.”
When asked if he, after hearing about the massacre, hoped the assailant wasn’t Muslim, Mubarak-Rowe said, “My heart really sank because here we are coming on the heels of a celebration of life, one of the greatest Muslims to ever live in America, Muhammad Ali. Immediately thereafter you have this savage committing this horrendous act, who claimed that he is Muslim. Muslims all over the country were just in revulsion against this and we immediately denounced this act of savagery and terror.”
He added that Muslims believe that everyone has the right to freedom, justice and equality despite gender and lifestyle. Many other religions do not subscribe to homosexuality, but Muslims reject the wanton violence and killing if innocent human beings. The attack in Orlando is “beyond the pale of civilized behavior,” he said.
Roubian added that the type of weapon, the tool used, is insignificant. “We have to condemn all forms of violence despite the types of tools used,” he said.
“To say that he could have use any other form of violence, that is true, but still the fact remains that he had that weapon and it was that weapon that caused destruction and death,” Aquil said.
The group also discussed if the outcome could have been different if civilians were armed in the nightclub, as well as other issues raised by the attack.